If you walked into my school on October 30th, knowing a BJJ seminar was planned, but not knowing who was giving the seminar, quickly you would realize this was something special. First you would see several black belts on the mat stretching and getting ready to learn. Next you would see people from California, Kentucky, and Illinois spread around the mat ready to train. The baited breaths of black, brown, purple, blue, and white belts would tell you a legend was about to teach.

Hopefully you would look around the room. If so, seated quietly near the entrance watching some guys playfully sparring, you would see a highly decorated World Class competitor, smiling. If you haven’t lived under a rock in the BJJ community for the last 8 years, then you would quickly recognize the guy as Andre Galvao, and something tells me you would quickly put your gi on and tie your belt.

The seminar began with a brief introduction, not only to Professor Galvao, but also to his philosophy and that of Atos Jiu Jitsu. What a way to set the mood for the day! This was not going to be a seminar of thuggish ruggish ego-centric testicular explosions; this was defined early as a seminar of sharing love of the art.

Following the introduction, we did a brief but comprehensive warm up and the first indication that Andre is a methodical instructor became evident. He started from the top of the body and warmed every joint imaginable down to the little toe.

Next, we jumped into some drills which led into techniques, which spawned counters and various submissions. Professor Galvao periodically tied the techniques together to remind us that we were on a path of progression and merely exploring a small set of options for each situation. The seminar included but was not limited to the following techniques:

  • Open Guard Pass Drill (variations on blocking the hip)
  • Andre’s Method of holding a tight cross-side from said guard pass
  • Using your hip to prevent an elbow escape, using your head to prevent a roll away (this section alone gave me significant material that I could add a whole new “Hip Control Video” tutorial)
  • Ezekiel from opponent turning away
  • Triangle from cross-side (new variation for Small Axe)
  • Nifty triangle finish detail using a head turn!
  • Guard Replacement drill (from open guard “thread the needle” pass) Roll under
  • Guard Replacement to triangle
  • Triangle defense to Omoplata
  • Omoplata detail clean up! (leg squeeze, far lapel grips, ankle grip, hips away)
  • Clock choke if guy is flexible (I obviously wasn’t)
  • Belly down armbar from omoplata –>rolling if necessary to variations of the traditional mounted armbar.
  • Drilled Guard Retention –>triangle–>omoplata–>clock choke–>armbar
  • Two variations of taking the back off a defended omoplata
  • Armbar off of back take attempt! (very tight and fast armlock… I think I yelped once during the demonstration)
  • Last was an armbar from omoplata control while parallel. Bringing the inside knee in to transition to the armbar.

Once the technique portion of the seminar was done, Professor Galvao began a meet and greet (another way of saying he picked people to spar with). He chose kids, women, black belts, purple belts to roll and he gave lots of different energies and utilized the techniques he had just shown many times. What a pleasure to watch.

Overall, I would describe this seminar as “concept driven”, beginner to advanced, and tons of fun. Andre is very approachable, willing to answer questions, and constantly surveying the participants to correct details. I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND an Andre Galvao seminar. There is an old saying, “Some people can teach, some people can do.” Andre Galvao can do BOTH!

Valeu Andre!!!!!

Controlling the Hips! Essay and Vids


                It is inevitable that in BJJ you will be told, “Control the hips,” or “It’s all about the hips,” or something along those lines. The advice is sound! What do they mean? This essay is going to try to demonstrate a way to direct your attention to controlling your opponent’s hips. We will first look at what I call the “Hip Control Zone (HCZ).” Then we will dissect several different positions both offensively and defensively with respect and attention paid to the HCZ.

Hip Control Zone (HCZ):

                Imagine you are on your back, under side control. Every time you try to elbow escape, you run into his arm or his knee and you are never able to get your knee to your elbow. Or, you are attacking someone from your guard; each time you move to sweep or swing on an armbar your legs seem too short or your butt feels like it is stuck to the mat. What you’re imagining is probably a past reality and likely will happen again; someone has managed to control your hip mobility and they did so by controlling your HCZ.

                The HCZ is a moving target. Depending on the position, it can be a small target or a very large target. If a person is flat on his back the HCZ is small, but if the person bumps up onto his side turning into you, the HCZ grows larger and harder to manage.  However, the core of the HCZ is the area on a person’s side where their hip bone begins.

Side Control Variations: Continue reading